Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stacking the Shelves 6.28.14

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews. Its all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, whether physical or virtual books. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course, ebooks! Tynga posts this meme on Saturdays, but you can post on any day that works best for you! Check out the guidelines by visiting Tynga's blog! 


I'm borrowing the audio version of this book from the library! I'm about halfway through and its pretty good so far! 


I won this book from Simon and Schuster Publishing! I haven't heard of it, but it looks pretty interesting so I can't wait to read it (: 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday! 6.27.14

Feature and Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet new people and gain more followers in the book blogging community. If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers. But you have to know, the point of this hop is to follow other blogs also. I follow you, you follow me. 

The general rules are: 
- Follow the Feature and Follow Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read)
- Follow the Featured Bloggers
- Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts. 
- Grab the button up there and place it in a post. This post is for people to say hi and that they are now following you in your comments. 
- Follow, Follow, Follow as many as you can. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Don't just follow, comment and say hi in the post! Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say 'hi'
- If someone comments and says they are following you, please follow back! 

This weeks question: Post a photo of your favorite coffee mug (or mugs if you can't choose just one)

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I have a couple favorite mugs! I bought the minion mug when I was at Universal Studios last year. And I painted the owl mug at a pottery place for a bachelorette party. I also just got a new coffee mug that has a picture of books, and underneath it says "my happy place". I love it! But I don't have a picture with me right now.. (: 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

[Review] Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony by Jeff Ashton

Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony by Jeff Ashton with Lisa Pulizter
Publisher: Harper True Crime
Publishing Date: 2011
Format: paperback, purchased
373 Pages


It was the trial that stunned America, the verdict that shocked us all. On July 5, 2011, nearly three years after her initial arrest, Casey Anthony walked away, virtually scot-free, from one of the most sensational murder trials of all time. She'd been accused of killing her daughter, Caylee, but the trial only left behind more questions: Was she actually innocent? What really happened to Caylee? Was this what justice really looked like?

In Imperfect Justice, prosecutor Jeff Ashton, one of the principal players in the case's drama, sheds light on those questions and much more, telling the behind-the-scenes story of the investigation, the trial, and the now-infamous verdict. Providing an inside account of the case, Ashton, a career prosecutor for the state of Florida, goes where the press and pundits have only speculated, detailing what really happened during the investigation, showing how the prosecution built their case, and explaining how a woman so shrouded in suspicion was proclaimed innocent.

Moving beyond the simple explanations, Ashton offers an in-depth look at the complex figure of Casey Anthony, a woman whose lies he spent three years trying to understand. And yet this focus on Casey came with its own risks; here he details how this widespread fixation on Casey—both in the media and in the trial—may have undermined the case itself. As everyone got caught up in the quest to understand the supposed villain, somehow the victim, Caylee, was all but forgotten—not just to the public, but more important, to the jury.

Complete with never-before-revealed information about the case and the accused, Ashton examines what the prosecution got right, what they got wrong, and why he remains completely convinced of Casey Anthony's guilt.

My Review 

When the Casey Anthony case was happening, I didn't follow it too closely. I watched news clips every now and then, new the gist of what the case was about and the latest theories, but didn't have much interest in following it religiously. Lately, I've been interested in reading true crime stories, so I picked this one up at my local book store. 

Since I followed the story a little, I knew many of the things that were discussed in this book, but some of it was new. It was interesting to hear the prosecutor's side of the story and I thought Jeff Ashton did a good job laying out the facts as they saw them. I liked that the book was in chronological order as well; it made everything much easier to follow. I thought this book was interesting, but it wasn't the best or most intriguing book I've ever read. I would have to say the first half - the investigation - was more interesting than the description of the trial. Maybe that's because I'm an attorney and know the process already, but I found myself getting a little bored with it. Nevertheless, I thought this was an interesting book that's worth reading if you don't know too much about the case or trial. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

[Review] The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publishing Date: May 21, 2013
Format: hardcover, won
352 Pages


When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author of Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

My Review

I won a copy of this book in a huge giveaway from SimonTeen. I was so excited to receive all these wonderful books and couldn't wait to dive in! But I also wanted to make sure that I was getting other books done as well, so it took me a while to finally get to this book. I don't know why I waited so long for this one, but I'm glad I finally read it! 

Jude has just graduated from high school and its the summer before her freshman year of college. But instead of working to save up money, or spending all her time with friends, she's taking care of her dad who has Alzheimer's. She decides to restore her dad's old bike with the help of a local mechanic shop. When Emilio is the guy hired, she doesn't know what to do because she made an oath to her sisters that she would never become involved with a Vargas. But as they get to know each other, and as she faces the struggles taking care of her dad, she realizes she can't keep the oath. Emilio and Jude are great together. He really cares about her and her father, and doesn't judge her father with his strange behavior (before he learns why he's acting that way). 

What I loved about this story was that it was so much more than just a teen romance. Jude is really struggling with taking care of her sick father, but doesn't really want to admit to needing help. She's no longer a teenager enjoying her summer before going to college; she's a caregiver 24/7 and she's losing her close friends because they don't understand. This book is emotional, so be prepared! But I highly recommend it! (: 

Monday, June 23, 2014

[Review] 44 Charles Street by Danielle Steel

44 Charles Street by Danielle Steel
Publisher: Corgi Books
Publishing Date: 2011
Format: paperback, purchased
381 Pages


The plumbing was prone to leaks, the furniture rescued from garage sales. And every square inch was being devotedly restored to its original splendor—even as a relationship fell to pieces. Now Francesca Thayer, newly separated from her lawyer boyfriend Todd, is desperate. The owner of a struggling art gallery, and suddenly the sole mortgage payer on her Greenwich Village townhouse, Francesca does the math and then the unimaginable. She puts out an advertisement for boarders. Soon her house becomes a whole new world.

First comes Eileen, a fresh, pretty L.A. transplant, now a New York City schoolteacher. Then there’s Chris, a young father struggling with a troubled ex-wife and the challenge of parenting a seven-year-old son who visits every other weekend. The final tenant is Marya, a celebrated cookbook author hoping to start a new chapter in her life after the death of her husband. As Francesca’s art gallery begins to find its footing and Todd moves on to another woman, she discovers that her accidental tenants have become the most important people in her life. 

As the roommates bond, and the house fills with the aroma of Marya’s exquisite cuisine, there are shadows as well as light. Naïve Eileen explores the precarious boundaries of online dating with a series of strangers. Chris’s custody fight for his son escalates to devastating levels. Marya faces an unexpected choice that will take her into untested waters. And Francesca herself will contemplate what had seemed impossible: opening her heart once more.

Over the course of one amazing, unforgettable, ultimately life-changing year, the house at 44 Charles Street fills with laughter, heartbreak, and, always, hope. In the hands of master storyteller Danielle Steel, it’s a place those who visit will never want to leave.

My Review

I picked this book up because I haven't read anything by Danielle Steel in quite some time and I wasn't sure what I was in the mood to read. This story was good, but it wasn't a great book. I enjoyed the plot and the characters, but I didn't think the writing was great. This actually surprised me a little since it's a Danielle Steel novel; she's published so many books that I figured the writing would have been a lot better. But as I said, the characters were interesting and each one brought a little something different to the book. There's Eileen, a young teacher who doesn't yet know what's best for her; Chris, a divorced father of a young son, and Marya, a world renowned chef. I enjoyed learning about each of their lives and how they affected Francesca, the main character in the story. Had the characters not been as good, this book would have gotten a lower rating from me. But I was able to look past the writing a bit because the story was decent. Unfortunately, I probably wouldn't recommend this book. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

[Review] Missing You by Harlan Coben

Missing You by Harlan Coben 
Publisher: Dutton
Publishing Date: March 18, 2014
Format: paperback, ARC
400 Pages


It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.

My Review

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I was so excited when I was contacted by the publisher and asked to review this novel by Harlan Coben! He is such a great mystery writer, and I love his work! I couldn't pass this one up! Especially after reading the synopsis; my fiance and I actually met online, and I had plenty of reservations before we actually met, and since this story involves online dating, I really wanted to check it out.

Kat Donovan is a New York Detective whose haunted by her father's death almost 20 years ago. She lost her father, then shortly after, her fiance dumped her. But when she comes across her fiance's picture on a dating site, she can't help but wonder what happened. Soon she becomes tied up in a very interesting case with a young boy, which includes illegally accessing online websites, tracing bank account transactions, and searching for missing persons.

Coben takes you on a wild ride in this story! There are different plot lines that end up connecting in ways that you wouldn't have thought. This was one book I couldn't put down. I just wanted to know what happened next! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a mystery. Harlan Coben is quickly becoming one of my favorite mystery writers and I can't wait to read his other work (some of which I already have on my shelves!).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday 6.17.14

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the The Broke and the Bookish. Every week she posts an idea for a 'Top Ten' list relating to books, and encourages other book bloggers to respond and participate. All the details are listed on her site.

This week's question: Top ten books on my summer TBR list! 

These lists are always hard for me because as much as I want to make a list and stick to it, I often don't. I'm very much a person that has to be in the mood to read a certain kind of book. Sometimes I pick up a mystery, but I'm not in the mood, so I put it down. Other times I pick up a young adult thinking its what I want, but put that down because it's just not what I'm in the mood for. But, despite all that, I'm going to try to come up with a list of books to read this summer (: 

1.  The Program - I won this in a giveaway and it's been sitting on my shelf since! I've heard great things so I really can't wait to start it (:

2. The Book of Broken Hearts - I love young adult books, and romances, so this seems like a perfect combination for summer! 

3. Lola and the Boy Next Door  4. Isla and the Happily Ever After 
Absolutely loved Anna and the French Kiss, so I can't wait to dive into these two! 

5. The Forgotten Daughter - I started reading this already, but then I picked up The Reason I Jump from the library and needed to start that right away (see review here). So I'm really hoping I can finish it this summer!

6. One Plus One - After reading Me Before You, I can't wait to get my hands on everything by Jojo Moyes! 

7. Attachments - I have yet to read anything by Rainbow Rowell, and I certainly can't wait to! They all look really good, and this looks funny so I can't wait to read it! 

8. 7th Heaven - Halfway done with this series (what's out so far) and I can't wait to keep reading! 

9. 44 Charles Street - This has been on my shelf for a few months now and it sounds really good. Hopefully I'll get to it this summer (:

10. The Summer I Turned Pretty - Summer is in the title, so its the perfect summer read! (:


Monday, June 16, 2014

[Review] Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin 
Publisher: MacMillin Audio
Publishing Date: July 24, 2012
9 CDs
Format: Audio CD, borrowed


Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.

For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.

My Review

I've been a big fan of Emily Giffin's work since I first read Something Borrowed. Since then, I've read most of what she's written and I won't be stopping anytime soon! This story of Marian and Kirby is another great work by Giffin. Her characters come to life in these pages and I felt like I really got to know them. Marian is a hard-working TV producer who seems to have a perfect life. Great job she loves, perfect, hot-shot boyfriend, and great place in the city. But when Kirby shows up, she realizes that there's more to life than her job. On the other hand, Kirby is a teenager trying to figure out who she really is and what she wants to do in life. 

I loved listening to this book and was really sad to see it end! I wanted to keep learning about Marian and Kirby's lives. I loved that the book switched back and forth between both of their POVs. It was great hearing both of their thoughts on issues, even though sometimes I wish it staying with Marian or Kirby, depending on what was happening. I wish I knew more of what happened after the last few pages! Though, this always happens; I always want more. But I guess that's how I know the book was good! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

[Review] The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
Publisher: Random House
Publishing Date: Aug. 27, 2013
176 Pages 
Format: hardcover, borrowed 


You've never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within. 

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: "Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?" "Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?" "Why don't you make eye contact when you're talking?" and "What's the reason you jump?" (Naoki's answers: "When I'm jumping, it's as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.")With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again. 

In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.

My Review

I heard about this books months ago, and since then, I've wanted to read it. Not too long after that, I was blessed to have C, a 3-year-old autistic boy, come into my life. As I started to get to know him, I wanted to read this book that much more. I've been patiently waiting to get a copy from my library, and finally did last week. I put down the book I was reading at the time to jump right into this one. I had really high hopes for it; not only because I had heard it was so good, but because I wanted to learn a little more about what was going on in his mind. 

Unfortunately, this book didn't live up to my expectations. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I hoped to, and struggled to finish it. I just didn't feel like I got that insight I was looking for. I found the author over generalized way too much. Instead of just answering how or why he did things, he would say "people with autism" do this because... or feel this way because...etc. Just like "normal" developing people, those with autism are very different from one another and no one has the exact same experiences or needs. One of the questions he was asked was why he liked water so much. He went on to state that people with autism want to go back to a "distant past." I was so confused when I read this. Can't it just be that they like how the water feels? They just like swimming? I don't think everyone wants to go back to a distant past... Another question was about why people with autism can't stay still and always have to be moving. He answered with he feels like his soul is detaching itself from his body. I'm not sure about you, but that's one of the strangest answers I've heard. I'm not saying that's not how he feels, maybe it is. But I don't think you can say that's exactly how everyone with autism feels. 

This book felt forced for some reason. I'm not sure I can explain how or why, but that's how it felt to me. I don't like how everything was about "people with autism." I wish it had been more about his experiences, why he felt that way, rather than trying to explain everyone with this disorder. 

To be honest, if you're looking for a book to explain autism, I felt Carly's Voice by Arthur and Carly Fleishmann was much better. It's mostly told from the father's point of view, but Carly often explains why she does things the way she does. I thought it was a much better explanation of what it's like to be autistic. I'm disappointed this book didn't live up to what I was expecting, but that's okay. To some people, this is exactly what they were looking for, and I'm glad for them. But for me, it just wasn't helpful. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stacking the Shelves 6.14.14

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews. Its all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, whether physical or virtual books. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course, ebooks! Tynga posts this meme on Saturdays, but you can post on any day that works best for you! Check out the guidelines by visiting Tynga's blog! 

Two new books to add to my shelves! I actually bought 4 this week, until I got home and realized that I already had two of them.... I'm not realizing that I really need to catalogue my books and keep track of what I already have (: 


Also borrowed these two from the library! 

Listening to Where We Belong on CD, and the review for The Reason I Jump will come shortly! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday! 6.13.14

Feature and Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet new people and gain more followers in the book blogging community. If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers. But you have to know, the point of this hop is to follow other blogs also. I follow you, you follow me. 

The general rules are: 
- Follow the Feature and Follow Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read)
- Follow the Featured Bloggers
- Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts. 
- Grab the button up there and place it in a post. This post is for people to say hi and that they are now following you in your comments. 
- Follow, Follow, Follow as many as you can. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Don't just follow, comment and say hi in the post! Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say 'hi'
- If someone comments and says they are following you, please follow back! 

This weeks question: Armchair travel! Tell us about your favorite book in a setting you'd like to visit (a real place for this question).

One of my favorite books, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, is set in England. I've always wanted to go there, and its on my list of places to see! Hopefully I'll get there in my lifetime (: 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

*Book Tour and Excerpt* Ringmaster by Trudi Jaye

by Trudi Jaye
Paranormal Romance
Date Published: May 28, 2014


Roll up! Roll up! Join us for the greatest show on Earth! 

The magical Jolly Carnival is the only life Rilla Jolly knows—and it’s all falling apart around her. Just as she’s thrust into the role of Ringmaster after her father’s unexpected death, an old family friend turns up to challenge her birthright.

Her rival's sexy son Jack isn’t helping either. Despite being a greenhorn and an outsider, he’s intent on charming everyone, convincing them that Rilla isn’t up to the task. It’s not going to be easy to persuade the Carnival folk she’s still the best choice to lead them all.

But Rilla must also contend with another threat—the ongoing sabotage that has been disturbing their delicate magical balance and threatening to destroy the Carnival. All signs point to an insider, making it impossible to know who to trust.

To save her beloved Carnival, Rilla must do everything in her power to find the saboteur before they attack again—but if she takes her eye off the battle for Ringmaster for even a second, she risks losing the one thing she’s trained for her entire life. 

Buy on Amazon



The red-and-white tent roof shuddered in the wind and rain. Ropes and canvas flapped, as if Abacus himself were objecting to his final resting place. 
Rilla swallowed hard around the lump that had been permanently stuck in her throat since she’d been told of her father's death. All around her were Carnival folk, their heads tilted upward, tears running down many faces. 
It couldn't be true. Her larger-than-life father was limitless, unbeatable. Certainly not meant to die in a stupid car crash. 
Over their heads, Missy crawled along the high-wire rigging toward the top of the massive tent. The silver of her leotard sparkled under the lights, and her long legs clung to the ropes with an elegance that hid powerful muscles. Every pair of eyes in the tent watched as she completed the tradition that had been started three hundred years before, by the nine original families. 
The ashes of almost every member of the Jolly Carnival who’d passed on were contained in one of the two huge round tent poles. They literally held the very essence of the Carnival. And now her bright and brilliant father was another collection of ash in the Carnival tradition. 
Barb squeezed her hand; Rilla glanced at her and nodded. It was Barb’s daughter Missy up there doing the final ceremony, and she was glad it was someone who’d loved her father almost as much as she did. Rilla looked around the tent, trying to memorize the people. Everyone was there, from the newest greenhorn to the oldest hand, crowded into the massive big top. She knew every face in the room. 
Rubbing at the tears running down her face, Rilla felt her anger flare again. She’d been keeping it at bay, but every so often, it burned its way up her throat. She wanted to shout at someone, hit them, cry out at the injustice. 
It wasn't right. 
A violin began to play a slow, haunting melody. The tune hit the chorus and she recognized it. She tried to smile. From her other side, Christoph’s muscular arm clamped around her shoulders, and she listened silently to the rest of the ABBA song that Viktor was playing in slow time. 
The song was a lovely idea, but her father would have hated the slowness. He loved the speed of the tunes by the Swedish band. He'd always said the tents went up faster to the beat of “Mama Mia.” And he'd always preferred the nickname Abba to his full name Abacus. 
"He wouldn't want you to be sad, little one," said Christoph as he gave her another squeeze with his massive arm. 
She looked up at him and took comfort in his familiar lined features. He was the strongman of the Carnival in more ways than one. "I know. But it doesn't help." 
"No, it doesn’t. Come, we should go now." Rilla allowed Christoph to gently pull her toward the tent flaps that would take them away from the crowds of people. His mustache twitched, and she knew he was trying not to cry at the loss of his friend. 
As they walked out, a flash of blue hair caught her eye. A man stood near a side entrance to the big top, his expression a strange mix of anger and excitement. His shock of blue hair stood at attention on his head, and he wore a black shirt with matching black trousers. A ripple of unease washed through Rilla. The stranger caught and held her gaze. Then he turned and disappeared out into the storm. 
Rilla frowned. She opened her mouth to question Christoph, then closed it again. Her father knew literally thousands of people. He’d been a big, charismatic personality who’d lived his entire life on the circuit. There could be any number of people she’d never met who could claim a relationship with him. 
The blue-haired man might have seemed out of place, but that didn’t mean he shouldn’t be there. 
She glanced back up at Christoph as they neared the exit. For the first time, she noticed the grey hair mixed with the black on his head. Her father and Christoph had grown up together, lived their lives together. The big man had helped Abacus raise Rilla when her mother had left. He was going to feel the gap left by Abacus just as she did. 
"Rilla, there's a problem." 
"Pardon?" Rilla turned, trying to focus on the scruffy boy who’d stopped her. She blinked and recognized Joey, one of the younger runners. 
"There's a man. He says…" Joey trailed off as an older man strode past him, straight up to Christoph and Rilla. He pushed out his chin and glared at them both. 
"My name is Blago Knight. I’m here to claim the title of Ringmaster." 
Rilla felt the world sway. If Christoph hadn't been holding her up, she didn’t think she would have remained standing. The momentary confusion cleared and she blinked, looking at the man in front of her. Her gaze narrowed. 
Who the hell did he think he was? 
"You do realize this is my father's funeral?" she said, her voice breaking in the middle. She cleared her throat and pulled herself together. She was the Carnival leader now. 
"Of course I realize it, young lady. But it doesn't change the fact that I demand to speak to the Nine. You must convene an emergency session." 
"You’ll have to wait, Blago. This isn't the time." Christoph's voice boomed unnaturally loud. Every eye in the crowded room focused on Rilla and the stranger. 
"I know the rules as well as anyone, Christoph. I have to announce my intentions to the Nine immediately or it’s too late.” He glanced at Rilla. “If you stand in my way, you forfeit your rights to the Ringmaster claim." 
Shivers raced across her skin as she stared at the old man in front of her. Bushy eyebrows covered bloodshot eyes, dark and fierce at their center. The lined face was surrounded by a seething mass of white, frizzy hair. He held a black cane in one hand and an old-fashioned bowler hat in the other. 
How could he have a legitimate claim? She didn't understand. She'd never even heard of him. 
A knot of tension pushed against her temple, and a headache crawled across her scalp. She lifted one hand to her forehead and rubbed at it, trying to break up the pain that was bashing around inside her head. She just needed a moment to clear her head, time to think without this grief filling her up until she was ready to burst with the pain. 
But rules were rules. "Come with me. It will be informal but enough to judge your claim and if you’re valid." 
"‘Course I'm valid. Just ask ol' Christoph here. He'll vouch for me." 
Rilla looked up at Christoph in shock. 
Her oldest family friend nodded and she realized he’d used Blago’s first name a moment ago. Of course he knew him. 
But how? And why had she never heard of this stranger? “Fine.” She looked around and gestured to the others in the Nine. They would meet immediately to determine his claim. 
Rilla paced along the narrow aisle in her caravan, clenching and unclenching her hands. "How can someone I've never heard of have a claim? It doesn't make sense," she said. 
Christoph lifted his head from his hands. "I'd never have thought…" He cleared his throat. "Abba… your father would never have expected him to come back. It was so long ago." He lowered his head into his hands again and seemed to shrink into the small sofa in Rilla’s lounge area. 
"What was so long ago? What is this all about?" 
He looked up again, shaking his head. "He was in the show crew, probably would have been Showmaster instead of me if he’d stayed. But he was thrown out, thirty years plus three." 
"Thirty-three years?” Rilla stopped pacing. “Isn't that…? He tried to stop a Gift?" 
Christoph nodded. "Got himself and his family kicked out. Everyone back then was shocked, especially Abba. They were tight." 
"His whole family?" 
Again, Christoph nodded. "Mother, father, sister—they all helped him. He fell for the Mark, interfered with her Gift." 
She'd been told, her father had drummed it into her, but she'd never really thought… The Carnival had thrown someone out? Left them behind to survive without the help of the group? "But surely…" She stopped when she saw Christoph shaking his head. "No wonder he's pissed." 
"Listen, Rilla, he'll have support from some of the older ones who've been rumbling that you're too young to be Ringmaster and that you won’t be able to deal with the sabotage problem." 
"It's not against the rules to be young." She crossed her arms and glared at him. Her father hadn’t expected to die and leave her to run things at twenty-four years of age, but she was perfectly capable of doing it. 
"No, just uncomfortable for some of the older ones to accept." Christoph heaved a sigh and rubbed one hand over his forehead. 
"And some of the younger ones." 
He shrugged. "You'll just have to prove them wrong. You've been raised for this, Amaryllis Jolly. It's your family name on the sign out front, your family that survived the wreck, and your father that's been running the show for the last forty years. Don't forget that." 
“I can’t forget it. But…” She rubbed her hand over her stiff neck muscles. 
“Don’t doubt yourself, Rilla. This isn’t the time or place. You’re the acting Ringmaster until the Carnival chooses someone to lead. You’ve got an advantage and you need to use it. You need to prove to everyone, especially the Carnival, that you’re the right person for the job, and you’ve got to do it quick. Blago, he’s a smart man. He’ll take every advantage he can get.” 
“How well do you know him?” 
Christoph sighed. “He was one of the old gang. We were all tight when we were kids. But I’ve changed since then. Maybe he has too.” 
Rilla took a deep breath. “The Nine accepted it pretty easily.” 
"What else could they say? He's legitimate, Rilla. Him and his son." 
"His son?" 
"The fella that was waiting outside the tent. Tall, dark hair." 
Rilla shook her head. How could she have overlooked the son? It frightened her that she could have missed something so simple. 
"Nah, he stood back. Let his da do the talking. Blago was raised Carnival. But the boy, he's green and he looked it. That'll count against him, no doubt there." 
Rilla nodded. Outsiders weren’t welcomed easily. 
"Where are they now?" She had to plan, to figure out how she was going to fix this. 
"In the food tent, where you should be." 
"I'll get there.” It was her father’s funeral; of course she would be there. “How long do I have?" 
"‘Til the end of our stay here. Three weeks. After that, we’re headed for the Compound with a new Ringmaster." 
Rilla nodded. Winter was almost on them; they were due a rest. "Has there been a Mark named yet?" 
Christoph shook his head. "Maybe there won't be. We'll be busy dealing with this. Maybe the Carnival will give us a break." 
"We can't count on it,” said Rilla. “Tell Joey to keep an eye out, and let me know as soon as something happens. We can't lose focus just because we're in the middle of a crisis." 
"Listen, Rilla, no one expects you to—"
"What? Do what I've been trained to do? This wouldn't have stopped my father, and it won’t stop me." Rilla banged her fist against the wall. Glass rattled in the ancient trailer, and she scowled. It might be the biggest trailer in the Carnival, but it sure wasn't the newest. 
"Christoph, what happened to the Mark he fell for?" she asked. 
"Last I heard, Blago married her."

About the Author

I’ve always loved books, and the stories they bring to life in my head. I’ve always had an overactive imagination as well, and distinctly remember sitting at the base of the big oak tree at school when I was a kid, building houses for the fairies, telling their stories as I went.

Born and raised in New Zealand, I have also lived in the UK, US, and Denmark. I love to meet new people; it’s a fantastic way to gain exposure to new ideas and cultures and, of course, to get story ideas. 

For the last ten years I’ve been a magazine writer, and currently I get to write about innovative and cutting-edge research for a tertiary institution in New Zealand. It’s an inspiring job, talking to people about their passion, and I try to tell their stories in the best possible way. 

I live in a secluded haven amongst the trees in Auckland with my lovely husband and cheeky three-year-old daughter. I enjoy yoga, although I’m not very bendy, and karate, although I don’t like the idea of hitting anyone. It’s about pushing my boundaries, and both those activities are physical, in a way that my work as a writer isn’t.  

I’ve worked as a camp counsellor, a waitress, a checkout girl, a citizenship officer and an editor. But none of those jobs compares to being able to call myself a writer. 

Twitter: @TrudiJaye

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday 6.10.14

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the The Broke and the Bookish. Every week she posts an idea for a 'Top Ten' list relating to books, and encourages other book bloggers to respond and participate. All the details are listed on her site. 

This week's topic: Top ten books I've read so far this year 
Wow, so many of these are romances! I guess that's what I'm in the mood for lately! Sometimes it goes in phases and I'm really in the mood for certain books, like dystopian one time, romance another, thriller/mystery...etc.  Click on the title to read the review!

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - easily one of the best books I've ever read!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - a fun, cute book that I couldn't put down!

Carly's Voice - Very information and moving. Helps me understand my nephew a little bit more.

Letting Ana Go - Really enjoyed this one! I loved the writing style and the anonymous author. Sad but eye-opening

Anything But Sweet - Really cute romance

Something Sweeter - third story in the Sweet, TX series. Review will be out July 2 for a blog tour! 

Kissing the Maid of Honor - I love romance stories, Secret Wishes, #1

Her Accidental Boyfriend - Secret Wishes, #2

Wild About Her Wingman - Secret Wishes, #3

Bed of Roses - 2nd book in the Bride Quartet series, love them all!

Faking Normal - loved this book! So real and emotional